Start a Travel Blog – the warts and all version
So you have decided to start a travel blog and you would like to make money from it, right?. Well congratulations, you have come to the right place to kick start your travel blog and new career.
Now I have read many posts from other people saying how easy it is to start a travel blog. For some it can be very easy. They say it will only cost you as much as a cup of coffee to set up. Or it will only take the same amount of time as to drink that same coffee. Well, I beg to differ here. For many of us some things can take a little longer and it will be a challenge. Therefore, we will need help from professionals.
You have probably done a lot of research already. And I guess you have been overwhelmed with the words domain, hosting, analytics, SEO, keyword, etc. A lot of these terms went straight over my head. It took a lot of research and reading to come to grips with them all. I will now do my best to explain them to you here.
If you are series about starting a blog keep reading. Here is my warts and all post on how to start a travel blog and see what you think. I have tried to make the information as simple as possible. The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to not give up. It will be worth it in the end. You can make a good living from blogging. It may not happen right from the start but with perseverance success can follow.
What do you need to start a blog?
1. A computer (not a tablet or smartphone-they are a bit small to design on).
2. An internet connection.
3. Funds for the initial set up.
4. Time, and lots of it.
Starting a blog is a step-by-step process. So let’s get started.
1. Pick your name (and brand)
There a number of things to think about when picking your name. Do you want it to become a brand? And want it to be found easily on search engines? You also want it to reflect what you are actually about? What if the name you want isn’t available? Is it very similar to someone else’s name? What will you do if it is?
It can be a hard decision on what to call your blog as you want it to last the test of time. I suggest you draft some names on a piece of paper. Take in to account that many travel bloggers have already used backpack, nomad, travel, saurus or adventurous already. See, you have already drunk that cup of coffee and haven’t chosen your name yet!
When picking your name consider what you want your blog to be about. Having a relevant name to the area you are blogging about can help people recognise what you are about faster. For instance, I registered shazzatravels.com. The blog is about travels of someone called shazza! Or www.liveworkplaytravel.com – about living, working, playing and travelling. What about www.londonworkingholiday.com. It is about a London working holiday.
Do a search on the Internet and check out other bloggers. See what they have called themselves. It will probably give you some inspiration.
Once you have your list Google the names to see if anyone else has the name or something very similar. You don’t want to be seen to be copying anyone.
Tips for picking your name:
– Keep it short and simple.
– Give it longevity. Don’t use my travels in 2015. Because that will soon be over.
– Don’t limit yourself unless you want to. A name such as my Aussie travels will mean you can only write about your Aussie travels. That is unless you only want to write about Aussie travels forever.
While picking your name also think about your brand. Ask yourself, what is your travel blog about? You probably just thought ‘duh, travel!’ well there are literally millions of travel blogs out there and you need to consider how you will stand out. Most bloggers choose a niche. For instance, some might specialise in working holidays such as myself with www.liveworkplaytravel.com. Others blog about luxury travel, budget travel, food they eat during their travels, travel tips, environmental travel, family travel, over 50’s travel or adventure travel. I think you get the gist that the list is endless as to what you can specialise in. Consider the direction and style of your blog and this might help you to choose the name.
Once you have chosen the name, you need to make sure it is available.
2. Register the name (as a business name and domain name)
Once you have decided on your name you need to register the domain name. If you want your blog to be a business then it is advisable to register the name as a business name as well. This is best done in your home country.
What is a domain name you ask? I will use a block of land and a house as an analogy.
1. You buy a block of land (domain name) from a real estate agent (domain name registry).
2. Then you build a house (website/blog) on your block of land. The house sits on the land like the website/blog sits on a domain host.
3. Your block of land has an address (domain name).
4. I add furniture (content) to my house (website/blog).
To put that in to reality.
1. I bought the domain name LiveWorkPlayTravel.com from GoDaddy.
2. Then built my website/blog. My address (domain name) is www.liveworkplaytravel.com
3. The domain lives on the domain host (Relentless Hosting).
4. I add content to my website/blog through static pages and blogs.
It should be noted that many of the places that allow you to register the domain name also offer hosting packages (see next point). There are many places to register your domain name.
3. Set up hosting for your domain name (website/blog)
What is hosting? Why do I need it?
Hosting is basically a place you rent a little slice of the web to display your website/blog. Compare it to buying a piece of land on which you will build a house. The land will always be there but the house may be renovated/rebuilt a number of times. Basically a website/host provider acts in exactly the same way. You buy a little piece of space for your website/blog.
My favourite hosts are Relentless Hosting and BlueHost. Due to me having a number of blogs I use a number of hosts. Something to do with don't put all your eggs in the one basket. I suggest you check them all out and go with the one that suits you and your budget. All are easy to use and offer step-by-step information to help you get your website up and running.
4. What blogging software will your website/blog be designed in?
Most website/blogs are now designed in WordPress. WordPress was especially designed for blogs. But what is WordPress I hear you ask? WordPress is basically a ‘content management system’ or CMS for short. It allows you to put words, pictures and style your website/blog without you needing to know coding or programming. Your host will allow you to download WordPress for you to work in.
It should be noted there is WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is for free blogs and you usually have WordPress in your website/blog name. WordPress.org is for people who want to own their own website/blog name. The second option is most preferable and this is the one you want.
5. Designing your website/blog
Designing your website/blog can be a very a time consuming thing. I actually went and did a WordPress course to learn the basics. My course helped me to set up my name, buy my hosting and then design my website/blog. The course was one morning a week for 8 weeks. If you know nothing about WordPress, like I didn’t, are not tech savvy and don’t want to be consumed (sometimes with frustration) in designing your website/blog I would suggest you enlist the help of a specialist WordPress website/blog designer. The cost involved will vary but you will need to weigh up the time and potential frustration of doing it yourself to having someone do it for you.
A WordPress website/blog allows you to have static pages like on websites. This is where you put information for people to refer to. Then there are Posts which are blogs.
Before you start putting information or your website or posting blogs you need to decide on the Theme of your website/site. This is basically the appearance of it. WordPress comes with a number of free themes for you to choose from.
Once you have chosen your theme you can add pictures and words to make it your own. Then you will need useful plugins. What is a plugin you ask? Well a plugin allows you to do extra things to your website/blog. Such as have a shop on your website/blog. Possibly SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plugin to help you add keywords so people will find your website/blog when they do searches. Maybe Google Analytics that helps you see who is visiting your site.
6. Other blog related things to do
Now you have your website/blog there are things you need to do to grow it.
- Get on to social media and promote your website/blog.
- Monetise your website by joining Affiliate programs. There are many affiliate programs around. Most join those related to what they are blogging about. For instance accommodation booking sites.
- Build an email list.
7. Start Blogging
There is only one thing left to do now and that is to get out there. Take pictures. Start writing and upload your blogs for the world to see.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer them.
See you out in the blogosphere.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you decide to purchase any of the products or services I recommend I get a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. This is a way in the future you will make money from your blog. But that is another post.
About the Author:
Sharyn McCullum has been travelling the world on and off all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She is the author of the LiveWork&Play series of working holiday guides. She also provides content for a number of websites including www.liveworkplaytravel.com, www.londonworkingholiday.com and www.shazzatravels.com. Income from her blogs help to keep her travelling. Melbourne, Australia is where she currently calls home.